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Create an At-Home Spa

Skip the pricey spa treatments and steal these get-radiant techniques from Rach's buddy Gretta Monahan.
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The Cooking Technique That Gives You Great Skin
You've heard of steaming vegetables, right? Well, Rach's buddy Gretta Monahan says the same method that's good for retaining nutrients in your broccoli works wonders for your skin, too: "Steaming is a quick way to wake up a winter complexion and help deep-cleanse pores."

Here's how to do it
Soak two clean hand towels in hot (not scalding) water. Drape one over each side of your face in a "c" shape and hold for 5 to 10 minutes. Pat dry, then follow with your usual cleansing routine

Exfoliate
Our skin naturally sheds cells, and they can pile up on the surface of your face, causing blemishes and a dull look. To sweep away that buildup: A few times a week, rub damp skin in a circular motion with a gentle fine-grain exfoliator. When you want deep exfoliation, do it longer, not harder.

Go oil-free
Daily moisturizing helps give you smooth, balanced skin, but excess oil can block pores and encourage blackheads. Stick to formulas like gels, serums, or lighter lotions with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid or aloe, instead of oil.

Use a face primer
These clear, matte, lightweight formulas form a film that settles over pores and wrinkles, giving skin a smooth appearance. They also help buffer skin from cosmetics and dirt. Use one after applying your moisturizer but before putting on your makeup.

HELP PUFFY EYES
It's no secret that resting cucumber slices on your eyelids can reduce dark circles and puffy skin. Turns out potato slices are just as effective, thanks to an enzyme called catecholase. Bonus: Spuds keep longer in your pantry, so you're more likely to have one around. Next time, try treating sleepy peepers with this trick.

SMOOTH IT OVER
A pedicurist's secret weapon? A buffer. Try Spongeables Pedi-Scrub Foot Buffer ($6, at drugstores), which is preloaded with timereleased moisturizers that last through multiple showers.

NAIL IT
No need to polish -- get glossy nails with a buffer. Smooth out natural ridges with Sephora 4-Step Buffer ($5, sephora.com). Using short back-and-forth movements, quickly skim it over nail beds.

USE HEAT
It's not just the technician's magic fingers that make you feel so relaxed after a spa visit: It's the heat they apply, which can mellow muscles and soften skin (heat opens pores to help products soak in). Take a shower pre-treatment, or just dip a soft washcloth, like the Luxury Flannel Facial Washcloth ($6.50, thebodyshop-usa.com), in warm water and hold it against your skin.

TRIPLE UP
A facialist at a spa would clean, polish and moisturize your skin. To get the same glow at home, use multitasking products like Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub ($6, at drugstores). It has salicylic acid to clean pores and microbeads to unearth fresh skin. Finish with your favorite moisturizing cream.

APPLY PRESSURE
Take an extra minute to massage in lotions and creams: The stimulation will bring out skin's natural oils and boost circulation so skin looks lively and toned. Shea-based creams, like SheaLav Body Butter ($21, shea buttermarket.com), have staying power.

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
For under-eye bags that even the best makeup tricks won't hide, I turn to the veggie drawer for help. My Cooling Cucumber Mask -- which I created for my friend Katie Lee Joel's new healthy-living cookbook, The Comfort Table: Everyday Occasions ($26, Simon Spotlight Entertainment) -- firms skin and decreases puffiness.

Using a blender or food processor, mix 1 tablespoon witch hazel, half of a chopped cucumber and 1/4 cup aloe vera gel. Mix in 1 tablespoon cornstarch to thicken. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Smooth over your face and neck and place 2 cucumber slices over your eyes; leave on for 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse and pat skin dry. Follow with a moisturizer.

HELP POST-TREATMENT REDNESS
A little pinkness is normal after using an exfoliating scrub, but it should fade quickly. To help it along, fill a spray bottle with cool water, spritz it on and pat dry.

DRESS CODE
Wear loose-fitting clothing so excess product is less likely to rub off. If it does, sprinkle a little baby powder on the fabric: It?ll draw out the oil.

*Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in October 2009.

 

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